The number of heroin overdose deaths that occur in New Jersey is shocking. As a New Jersey news outlet recently reported, the state’s rate of heroin deaths has essentially tripled since 2010, and it is roughly three times the national rate. To address this epidemic, police and prosecutors have stepped up efforts to crack down on the sale and use of heroin.
If you have been charged with a heroin-related crime in New Jersey, you need to take it seriously. The penalties and other consequences could be severe. It will be important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side that will have a thorough understanding of your situation.
Attorney Anthony J. Vecchio has been involved with heroin cases as both a prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney. He has also been selected as a Super Lawyers Rising Star in every year since 2012. You can trust him to give your case the serious thought, attention, skill and effort it deserves. He will aggressively seek the best outcome for you. Don’t wait to get legal help. Call or reach us online today to discuss your case.
A Closer Look at Heroin
If you have been charged with a heroin-related crime, you should understand how New Jersey treats this drug. Knowing this information will help you to understand the consequences that may possibly lie ahead for you in the state’s criminal justice system.
As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes, heroin is a highly addictive drug. It is made from morphine, a natural substance found in certain types of poppy plants. Heroin can be snorted, smoked or injected. Often, heroin is mixed with other drugs such as the painkiller, fentanyl.
In New Jersey, heroin is a “controlled dangerous substance,” or CDS, which is classified as a Schedule I drug. This means that it is deemed to have a “high potential for abuse” and no accepted medical use. (See N.J.S.A. 24:21-5.)
Types of Heroin Charges in New Jersey
Due to the dangerous nature of heroin, New Jersey imposes harsh punishment on those who commit crimes involving the drug. Other factors include the weight (or quantity) of the heroin involved in your case and the act you are accused of committing.
The following are types of heroin penalties in New Jersey:
You can be charged with possession if you have actual possession of any amount of heroin or if you are aware of its presence and have the intention to exercise control over it. Heroin possession is a crime of the third degree. You can face up to five years in prison and $35,000 in fines. (See N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.)
Heroin Distribution / Heroin Manufacturing
If you “knowingly and purposefully” possess heroin with intent to sell or distribute it, or if you are accused of manufacturing the drug, you can face a more severe distribution or manufacturing charge.
If the police find you with packaging equipment such as plastic bags, ties and scales, it could lead to such charges. Adulterants or dilutants are included in the determination of the total amount. Also, the prosecution can aggregate the amounts from multiple distributions.
The consequences you face could include:
- Less than a half-ounce – Crime of the third degree. Up to five years in prison and $75,000 in fines.
- Between a half-ounce and less than five ounces – Crime of the second degree. Up to 10 years in prison and $150,000 in fines.
- Five ounces or more – Crime of the first degree. Up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. (See N.N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5.)
You can be charged with being the leader of a narcotics trafficking network if you are accused of conspiring with two or more people to make, distribute or transport heroin, or if you are accused of financing such activities. If convicted, you could face a sentence of 25 years to life and a fine of up to $750,000. (See N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3.)
Heroin Crimes Near a School Zone
If you are accused of selling or distributing heroin within 1,000 feet of a school or school property, you could face up to three years in prison and $150,000 in fines. (See N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.)
How a New Jersey Heroin Defense Lawyer Can Help You
If you have been charged with a heroin-related charge, it is important to begin pursuing your defense strategy right away. Attorney Anthony J. Vecchio can get to work on your case immediately and take steps that include:
- Seeking discovery of the evidence against you – As a person who has been charged with a crime in New Jersey, you have the right to view the evidence which the prosecution has compiled to use against you, including police reports and lab reports.
- Moving to exclude evidence – In some situations, evidence can be excluded if it was obtained through an illegal search and seizure or if there were problems in the way it was tested in the crime lab. If all or some of the evidence against you is excluded, it could lead to the prosecution dropping or reducing your charges.
- Negotiating a plea agreement – Anthony J. Vecchio can negotiate an agreement with the prosecution that seeks to minimize your penalties if you decide to enter a guilty or no-contest plea to your heroin charges. For instance, it may be possible to consolidate multiple heroin penalties into a single sentence.
- Fighting for you at trial – We can vigorously contest the prosecution’s case at trial and, if you choose, we can present evidence on your behalf. For example, we can challenge whether the prosecution presented sufficient evidence that you “possessed” heroin if the heroin was found in a home or in a car that you shared with others.
- Help you to seek counseling – Anthony J. Vecchio realizes that addiction is a major factor in most heroin drug charges. We can work with you, the prosecution and the court to help you to get the substance abuse treatment and counseling you may need to get you through this difficult time.
Additionally, if you are eligible, we can seek the expungement of any records related to your heroin charges by filing a petition in Superior Court on your behalf at the proper time.
Contact a New Jersey Heroin Charges Attorney
If you have been charged with a heroin offense in New Jersey, Anthony J. Vecchio will personally handle your case and have your best interests at heart. He will take the time to get to know you and your circumstances. He will fight tirelessly to protect your rights.
We handle cases throughout New Jersey, including Freehold, Jersey City, Red Bank, Princeton, Woodbridge and Mt. Laurel.
Contact us today to talk about your case.